Slings and Quickdraws

Slings, or runners, arc another essential part of the gear list. A sling is a loop of webbing ranging in length from 6 inches to 48 inches. Two feet is a standard length that can be easily carried over the shoulder. Slings have a number of uses, including hitching around trees and rock spikes for protection, extending shorter slings to reduce rope drag, and creating anchors.

Always have about six standard-size slings available. Stitched slings are stronger and less bulky than hand-tied, knotted slings. Have some knotted slings available, however. It is handy to be able to untie a sling and thread it through an anchor point or around a tree to create a rappel anchor.

Shorter slings (4 to 6 inches) with a carabiner at each end are called quickdraws. A quickdraw is used as a connection between protection and the rope. Quickdraws are an essential piece of gear for sport climbing.

A straight-gate carabiner is attached to one end of the quickdraw and a bent-gate carabiner to the other end. The leader clips the straight-gate carabiner into a protection point and then clips the climbing rope into the bent-gate carabiner.

Quickdraws can also be used for establishing top-rope belay anchors; they also work well for traditional climbs that follow a straight line. Shorter quickdraws that are stitched together tightly are easy to handle and work well for short, direct routes. A rubber gasket or stitched pocket holds the bent-gate, rope-end carabiner in place. Most sport routes require six to fifteen quickdraws.

Webbing and Cord Safety Dynamics

  • Construction and Dimensions: Webbing and cord are made of several different materials, including nylon, Spectra, and Kevlar. Webbing comes in widths from ‘/2 inch to 2 inches, and is woven either flat or tubular. One-inch, 9/16-inch, and “/u;-inch tubular webbing is used most often. Wider widths are great for tying off trees for belay anchors. The thinner widths are usually carried as permanent loops from 4 inches to 48 inches, and are used to make many connections in the climbing systems. Spectra webbing is stronger and more durable than nylon. Webbing conies presewn into loops; sewn webbing is incredibly strong. Or it can be purchased off the spool and cut to any length desired. Webbing bought off the spool has to be tied together using a water knot (see Knots section later in this chapter). Cord conies in sizes ranging from 3 mm to 9 mm and is most often used to make small permanent loops that will be used with clamping hitches, or tied in larger loops for cordelettes used in anchors and rescue systems. Cord is bought by the foot, and loops are tied using a triple fisherman knot.
  • Strength Characteristics: Webbing is static-it does not stretch-and in the standard widths of 4/16 inch or larger has a breaking strength that greatly exceeds the maximum impact force the system could be subjected to. The strength of cord is dependent on the diameter and material-check the specifications before you buy it.
  • Care: Webbing and cord wear out from abrasion and with age. Visually check all webbing and cord regularly for excess wear or damage. Most climbers replace their slings and cords every couple of seasons.